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The Importance of Being Present: How to Stay Engaged and Focused During Meetings

As an executive assistant or administrative professional, it is essential to stay tuned in during meetings. It’s not enough to be just physically present; you need to be mentally engaged and focused on the conversation that is happening around you in order to be a key contributor, take effective notes, and provide assistance and support when needed. However, long meetings can often lead us down the path of boredom and disengagement, making it difficult to remain attentive and locked in throughout the entire session. Fortunately, there are simple strategies we can use to help keep us alert and focused during long meetings. In this blog, we’ll discuss tips for staying present during lengthy meetings so that you can make the most out of your time as an executive assistant or administrative professional.

Be Present and Stay Alert

What moment are you living in? Now? Or are you caught up in the past or daydreaming about the future? The importance of being present during meetings cannot be overstated. Attentive and engaged listening during conversations can help ensure that all details are accurately documented, tasks are properly delegated, and all questions are answered. Before you step foot in a meeting, take time to clear your head and ensure you’re in the moment. That means you’re paying attention to what’s going on right now, providing your full attention and brainpower to the now. Meetings, especially long ones, can be draining and can easily lead us down a path where we check out. Don’t fall into that trap! Low or boring points in a meeting may be immediately followed by an absolutely vital one. If you’ve allowed yourself to step out of the moment, you may miss something crucial!

Elite administrative assistants understand the power of focus and staying alert, and they know this skill allows them to stand out and shine often. Developing focus and the ability to stay alert requires intentional practice and conscious attention to your habits. While it’s certainly hard work to develop this skill, you may find that it will not only benefit you during meetings, but it could also improve your personal and professional life.

Focus happens when you’ve aligned the different elements of your life. That includes home, relationships, health, and work. How these elements interact will contribute to your ability to grow. For example, if you’re experiencing issues in your home life, it will be difficult to focus on work and stay alert during meetings. Make sure you’re paying attention to all the elements of your life. This will help you avoid instances where one area of your life negatively impacts another.

Own Your Spot

Sometimes administrative assistants who have been invited to attend important meetings may experience feelings of insecurity, low self-confidence, and nerves. That’s normal, especially if you’re new to being included in these types of meetings. First, acknowledge that you were included in the meeting because you bring value. Next, understand that you’re learning and growing with each meeting you attend. Try these tips to convey an attitude of belonging:

  • Embrace an attitude of confidence and poise.
  • Keep your energy high.
  • Smile and greet your colleagues.
  • When you speak, establish good eye contact with your audience.
  • Be sincere and deliver your input from the “gut.”
  • Don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t know something.
  • Expect the unexpected and embrace each moment as it comes.

Build Your Brand

Being actively engaged during meetings is a great way to build relationships with colleagues and show respect toward those around you. By being attentive and paying close attention to the conversation, you are demonstrating that you value the opinion of others and that you are interested in taking part in meaningful dialogue. Participating in conversations shows others that you are invested in the work you are doing and that you are a serious professional who is capable of big-picture thinking.

When something comes up in a meeting, don’t just focus on the potential problems. This kind of mindset is limiting and will convey to those around you that you see only boundaries, not future possibilities. Instead, look for opportunities in every situation, task, project, or assignment. This will involve creative thinking, innovation, fearlessness, and a willingness to go outside of the box.

Quick Tips

Before you go into any meeting, try these tips to become a better attendee and more impactful contributor:

  1. Create a plan beforehand – Prior to the meeting, create an agenda and plan that outlines what topics will be discussed during the meeting. This helps ensure that you are prepared for any questions or topics that may come up and can help keep your mind focused on the task at hand. This may be something only you reference, but it could be a powerful tool to help you stay on task.
  2. Sit close to the speaker – Sitting close to the speaker ensures that nothing is missed in case there are technical difficulties with remote participants or, in the case of larger meetings, if someone speaks too quietly for microphones to pick up their voice from far away. Additionally, this position provides better visibility of body language which can help provide more context when conversations become heated or intense.
  3. Ask questions – Asking questions is essential as it allows you to gain clarity on certain points while showing respect towards those around you. It allows you to engage with them directly instead of simply listening passively without responding kindly when appropriate opportunities arise. This shows others that you value their opinion and are interested in taking part in meaningful dialogue.

The goal of every executive assistant and administrative professional should be to ensure that all meetings are productive, efficient, and successful. While this may seem daunting at first, these strategies can help you stay focused and engaged throughout the entire meeting. Ultimately, this helps build your reputation as a serious professional who is interested in learning, growing, and evolving. By taking proactive steps to ensure meetings are successful, executive assistants and administrative professionals can set themselves up for success and make the most out of each meeting.

You’re a Meeting Master

Elite executive assistants understand the importance of being tuned in during meetings. They’ve embraced the habits, tricks, and skills outlined above and have focused on growing their professional presence. If you’re ready to reach that next level of success, Office Dynamics can help. We developed a huge library of resources that focuses on helping executive assistants master all the key functions required in their role, become strategic partners with their leaders, and reach incredible levels of professional success. You will find them in our Success Store.

The Success Store includes a massive library consisting of books, certification courses, eBooks, live virtual training, and on-demand training that can help assistants level up and reach new heights in their careers. But we don’t stop there. The Office Dynamics menu of services covers every single element an administrative assistant needs to continue their journey towards becoming a star. You’ll find a vast array of training options, both in-person and virtual, that will help you grow in your career. Click here to learn more!


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